When storm clouds gather on your mental horizon…
Some time ago, I went to lay on someone’s couch and told them about my stuff. I paid for this service and much like a car that needs its oil to be changed, my mind was quite lacking in oil at that time. Had you been able to hear my thoughts, they may have sounded like the grating gears of a 1950’s movie in which the getaway car was driven by someone who had never driven before. — driving lessons aside, my mental mechanic listened intently and after the session had come to an end, sharply on the hour, she closed her notebook. She peered at me from above her old-fashioned glasses and gave me the good news: “You, my dear, are depressed!”
She may as well have informed me that I was expecting and would soon give birth to a tarantula.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for going to chat to someone who may be able to shed some light on topics such as the occasional lack of confidence (yip, me too), or tell me why my inability to shed body fat, came as a direct result of my poor communications with my father when I was a child. (Oh, you too?)
My dear mind mechanic produced a little pad and wrote down the name of a nonaddictive, (non-MSG containing) … wait for it…. ANTIDEPRESSANT!
I mean, OMG, WTF, and LOL rolled all into one crumpled prescription paper of disbelief. I was officially a head-case!
So, armed with my piece of paper on which the name of the latest “good-for-you” antidepressant had been scrawled, I headed for my Doc.
Murray is not your everyday GP. He’s the kind of guy who looks for the root cause to a problem, rather than only treating the symptoms. It— Much like pulling out the root of the weed, rather than cutting away the leaves. (I know you know what I mean)
Murray and I chatted for a while. I elaborated on a couple of challenges in my life. Obviously one tries to make the story as colorful and dramatic as possible and I was half waiting for Murray to break out the box of Kleenex. Instead, Murray sat quietly, and with the tiniest hint of a smile, he leaned over to his bookshelf and produced a well-worn little book. Doctors are well known for looking stuff up, but this book was a little different. Murray produced a poem by none other than Rumi, the 13th-century poet, and Sufi mystic.
The poem was called “The Guesthouse” and it read:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
“Does this mean that you are doubling my medicine, or how do you want me to understand this?” I asked the good Doctor. — Murray told me something then, that no mind mechanic had managed convey to me. He told me that there is an Italian phrase, called Amor Fati. I guess the translation of this would read something like — “To love Fate”
Mr Rumi had it right… “Treat your life as if it were a guesthouse.” he said. Welcome all and everything. Not everything will be welcome, but everything will be, and in being, we will have to pause to take account of it. If someone breaks your heart, there will be pain. If you learn to sit still with the pain, you will find lessons within the processing of it and you will grow.
By handing me this poem, Murray was telling me that I should welcome the struggles of life. He was against me taking the anti depressants, because he thought that I should go through the challenges that I was facing and that I would be better off for it.
I have stuck a copy of the poem to the wall in front of my Mac. I see it every day. The poem reminds me that life will offer up many gifts. Some of these gifts look like they may explode in your face and make you very sad. We all receive these gifts.
What I wanted to offer you with these few dribbled lines of banter, is some encouragement. There truly are silver linings when you look up at the stormy clouds. There truly is sunshine to follow rain. Like the weather, life moves and changes all the time, or else it would not be called life. Nothing is permanent, things change. Change can be scary and leave you holding onto a tear drenched pillow, deep into the night. If you have to drench the pillow, do it! — But remember that it will be morning again and somehow one tiny thing will lead to another good thing and then another, and before you know it, you will be crying tears of laughter into that same pillow.
I read Rumi’s poem every day!